Vagina Warriors

For those who are not aware of the great work that’s been done and continues to be done with the Vagina Monologues, here is a post, in its entirety from the V-Day website.  V-Day is a global movement to create bigger attention on the struggle to end violence against women and girls, worldwide.

Vagina Warriors: An Emerging Paradigm, An Emerging Species

I have sat with women in crowded factories in Juarez, in crumbling shelters in the back streets of Cairo, in makeshift centers for teenage girls and women in Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Pine Ridge and Watts, in mansions in Hollywood, in burnt-out backyards in Kosova and Kabul, in a moving van after midnight with sex trafficked girls in Paris. Sometimes these meetings went on for hours; in the case of the 17-year-old Bulgarian sex slave, we had 35 minutes before her pimp came looking for her. I have heard the staggering stories of violence – war rapes, gang rapes, date rapes, licensed rapes, family rapes. I have seen first-hand the scars of brutality – black eyes, cigarette-hole burns in arms and legs, a melted face, bruises, slices and broken bones. I have witnessed women living without what is fundamental – sky, sun, a roof, food, parents, a clitoris, freedom. I have been there when skulls washed up on riverbanks and naked mutilated female bodies were discovered in ditches. I have seen the worst. The worst lives in my body. But in each and every case I was escorted, transformed, and transported by a guide, a visionary, an activist, an outrageous fighter and dreamer. I have come to know these women (and sometimes men) as Vagina Warriors.

It was Zoya who first took me to the muddy Afghan camps in Pakistan; Rada who translated the stories of women refugees as we traveled through war-torn Bosnia; Megan who led pro-vagina cheers on a freezing cold campus in Michigan; Igo who made jokes about land mines as we sped in her jeep through the post-war roads outside Pristina, Kosova; Esther who took me to the graves marked with pink crosses in Juarez, Mexico; Agnes who walked me up the path with dancing and singing Masai girls dressed in red, celebrating the opening of the first V-Day Safe House for girls fleeing female genital mutilation (FGM).

At first I thought this was just a rare group of individuals, specific women who had been violated or witnessed so much suffering they had no choice but to act. But after five years of traveling, forty countries later a pattern has emerged, an evolving species. Vagina Warriors are everywhere. In a time of escalating and explosive violence on the planet, these Warriors are fostering a new paradigm.

Although Vagina Warriors are highly original, they possess some general defining characteristics:
They are fierce, obsessed, can’t be stopped, driven.
They are no longer beholden to social customs or inhibited by taboos. They are not afraid to be alone, not afraid to be ridiculed or attacked. They are often willing to face anything for the safety and freedom of others.
They love to dance.
They are directed by vision, not ruled by ideology.
They are citizens of the world. They cherish humanity over nationhood.
They have a wicked sense of humor. A Palestinian activist told jokes to an Israeli soldier who pointed a machine gun at her as she tried to pass the checkpoints. She literally disarmed him with her humor.
Vagina Warriors know that compassion is the deepest form of memory.
They know that punishment does not make abusive people behave better. They know that it is more important to provide a space where the best can emerge rather than “teaching people a lesson.” I met an extraordinary activist in San Francisco, a former prostitute who had been abused as a child. Working with the correctional system, she devised a therapeutic workshop where convicted pimps and johns could confront their loneliness, insecurity and sorrow.
Vagina Warriors are done being victims. They know no one is coming to rescue them. They would not want to be rescued.
They have experienced their rage, depression, desire for revenge and they have transformed them through grieving and service. They have confronted the depth of their darkness. They live in their bodies.
They are community makers. They bring everyone in.
Vagina Warriors have a keen ability to live with ambiguity. They can hold two existing, opposite thoughts at the same time. I first recognized this quality during the Bosnian war. I was interviewing a Muslim woman activist in a refugee camp whose husband had been decapitated by a Serb. I asked her if she hated Serbs. She looked at me as if I were crazy. “No, no, I do not hate Serbs,” she said, “If I were to hate Serbs, then the Serbs would have won.”
Vagina Warriors know that the process of healing from violence is long and happens in stages. They give what they need the most, and by giving this they heal and activate the wounded part inside.
Many Vagina Warriors work primarily on a grassroots level. Because what is done to women is often done in isolation and remains unreported, Vagina Warriors work to make the invisible seen. Mary in Chicago fights for the rights of Women of Color so that they are not disregarded or abused; Nighat risked stoning and public shaming in Pakistan by producing “The Vagina Monologues” in Islamabad so that the stories and passions of women would not go unheard; Esther insists that the hundreds of disappeared girls in Juarez are honored and not forgotten.

For native people, a warrior is one whose basic responsibility is to protect and preserve life. The struggle to end violence on this planet is a battle. Emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical. It requires every bit of our strength, our courage, our fierceness. It means speaking out when everyone says to be quiet. It means going the distance to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. It means honoring the truth even if it means losing family, country, and friends. It means developing the spiritual muscle to enter and survive the grief that violence brings and, in that dangerous space of stunned unknowing, inviting the deeper wisdom.

Like Vaginas, Warriors are central to human existence, but they still remain largely unvalued and unseen. This year V-Day celebrates Vagina Warriors around the world, and by doing so we acknowledge these women and men and their work. In every community there are humble activists working every day, beat by beat to undo suffering. They sit by hospital beds, pass new laws, chant taboo words, write boring proposals, beg for money, demonstrate and hold vigils in the streets. They are our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our aunts, our grandmothers, and our best friends. Every woman has a warrior inside waiting to be born. In order to guarantee a world without violence, in a time of danger and escalating madness, we urge them to come out.

CELEBRATE VAGINA WARRIORS. LET MORE BE HONORED AND SEEN. LET MORE BE BORN.

– Eve Ensler, Founder/Artistic Director, V-Day; playwright, “The Vagina Monologues”

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14 thoughts on “Vagina Warriors

  1. Thanks for posting this berlynn

    Isn’t it interesting that the words that I can point to in blogs discussing US are now oh so icky?

    How come they weren’t icky coming out of the blogs of the guys that wrote them down.

    NO only when we claim those words to make fun of those tossing them around do they become icky.

    Christ and here I thought that guys gave up thinking girls have cooties when they left grade school.

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  3. Vagina warriors?

    I was thinking about starting a group called “Penis Warriors”, until I realized that it was the most stupid and disgusting idea ever imagined.

    If you want people to take your ideas seriously, you’re going to have to stop referring to your genitalia. People generally don’t want to hear about your crotch on account of the fact that no one cares. I thought we were supposed to see women as more than just what’s between their legs. Silly me.

  4. Dante, your blatant misrepresentation of the article is despicable and I suggest you refrain from this kind of trolling.

    Your comment that no one cares signals to me that YOU don’t care that it is those with vaginas who endure abuse in greater numbers than those without.

  5. Here’s some advice, bud. When you call people pigs and despicable whenever they disagree with you, most people tend to write you off as an uninsightful nut. It’s great for intimidating liberal men, not as good for getting people to actually take you seriously as something more than an angry talking vagina. Food for thought.

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  7. Just what exactly is your “comment policy” PnP? I have seen a lot of comments, including my own, disappear from your blog since I started coming here and am curious do you delete everything that you disagree with or what?

  8. I don’t tolerate misogyny well. You may suffer deletion if I’m feeling very sensitive about it. But I don’t think I’ve deleted any of your comments. Not intentionally, anyway. I get about 100 spam a day and I’ve quit checking it to see if I should post it. I don’t have that kind of time right now. I have much on the go.

    I’m getting private messages from some who have been with me from early on, wondering why I tolerate the likes of you and other serious trolls at P’n’P. One particularly nasty chap I felt obligated to report to his employer for his racist and misogynist remarks from a workplace computer. Others have simply been deleted and banned for abusing the privilege of posting comments. I mean, someone who posts tripe from the same IP address with two or three different names and two or three different email addresses is automatically out. It’s trolling, nothing more, nothing less and I won’t tolerate it.

    I’m still pretty new to this blogging thing — less than a year — and haven’t had to deal with much shite until recently. I’m contemplating going to a registered user scheme but don’t have the time to implement that just yet.

  9. Well, I had replied to some of your questions in another post and found that my comment was gone the next day. That particular post has fizzled away and I don’t have the time or the motivation to rewrite the response. I don’t think that I said anything particularly vexing. I suppose that depends on the reader though.

    I will add however, that not everyone who disagrees with you is a “troll.” Wouldn’t it be boring to run a blog where everyone agrees with you? Do you think that you could ever get 30+ comments on a particular post all stating “yes, you’re right.” I think that it would be terribly boring, but then again, I’ve always enjoyed a good lively discussion.

    But anyways, thanks for “tolerating the likes of me.”

  10. There seems to be no shortage of assholes posting replies here. This article is a helpful call to both genders. No need to make useless critical posts giggling over the word vagina, etc. Read it and wake the f–k up dammit. The world needs people with courage who protect others.

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